7:1 A good reputation is better than precious perfume;
likewise, the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
7:2 It is better to go to a funeral
than a feast.
For death is the destiny of every person,
and the living should take this to heart.
7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
because sober reflection is good for the heart.
7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking.
Frivolous Living Versus Wisdom
7:5 It is better for a person to receive a rebuke from those who are wise
than to listen to the song of fools.
7:6 For like the crackling of quick-burning thorns under a cooking pot,
so is the laughter of the fool.
This kind of folly also is useless.
Human Wisdom Overturned by Adversity
7:7 Surely oppression can turn a wise person into a fool;
likewise, a bribe corrupts the heart.
7:8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
likewise, patience is better than pride.
7:9 Do not let yourself be quickly provoked,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.
7:10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?”
for it is not wise to ask that.
Wisdom Can Lengthen One’s Life
7:11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing;
it benefits those who see the light of day.
7:12 For wisdom provides protection,
just as money provides protection.
But the advantage of knowledge is this:
Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.
Wisdom Acknowledges God’s Orchestration of Life
7:13 Consider the work of God:
For who can make straight what he has bent?
7:14 In times of prosperity be joyful,
but in times of adversity consider this:
God has made one as well as the other,
so that no one can discover what the future holds.
Exceptions to the Law of Retribution
7:15 During the days of my fleeting life I have seen both of these things:
Sometimes a righteous person dies prematurely in spite of his righteousness,
and sometimes a wicked person lives long in spite of his evil deeds.
7:16 So do not be excessively righteous or excessively wise;
otherwise you might be disappointed.
7:17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool;
otherwise you might die before your time.
7:18 It is best to take hold of one warning without letting go of the other warning;
for the one who fears God will follow both warnings.
Wisdom Needed Because No One is Truly Righteous
7:19 Wisdom gives a wise person more protection
than ten rulers in a city.
7:20 For there is not one truly righteous person on the earth
who continually does good and never sins.
7:21 Also, do not pay attention to everything that people say;
otherwise, you might even hear your servant cursing you.
7:22 For you know in your own heart
that you also have cursed others many times.
Human Wisdom is Limited
7:23 I have examined all this by wisdom;
I said, “I am determined to comprehend this” – but it was beyond my grasp.
7:24 Whatever has happened is beyond human understanding;
it is far deeper than anyone can fathom.
True Righteousness and Wisdom are Virtually Nonexistent
7:25 I tried to understand, examine, and comprehend
the role of wisdom in the scheme of things,
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the insanity of folly.
7:26 I discovered this:
More bitter than death is the kind of woman who is like a hunter’s snare;
her heart is like a hunter’s net and her hands are like prison chains.
The man who pleases God escapes her,
but the sinner is captured by her.
7:27 The Teacher says:
I discovered this while trying to discover the scheme of things, item by item.
7:28 What I have continually sought, I have not found;
I have found only one upright man among a thousand,
but I have not found one upright woman among all of them.
7:29 This alone have I discovered: God made humankind upright,
but they have sought many evil schemes.